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Introduction to Jamma Umoja

Jamma Umoja means families in union in Swahili. Jamma Umoja was established in 1996 as a private limited company to offer social work services to families.

The residential family centre is a Family Resource Service offering assessment and treatment services. Our aim is to provide an independent service which offers a spectrum of services in respect of children and their families.

The assessment protocol within the residential units is based on the concept of “good enough parenting”. Each family is assessed on their ability to offer their child(ren) adequate care and to prioritise the needs of their child(ren). The assessment model is based on the Department of Health guidance ‘Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families’. The programme covers the three domains within the ‘triangle’ framework, including the day-to-day physical care of the children, assessment of risk and evaluating the quality of the attachment and bonding between the children and their parents.

The method of assessment is active assessment i.e. working alongside parents, offering guidance, modelling behaviour, working with parents around their own background history of being parented, helping them to identify and understand patterns within their own childhood, which could potentially replay themselves in their current family. The assessment process aims to work with families around a wide range of areas including assisting them in understanding the concerns of the placing agency, to develop an awareness around what constitutes abuse and the impact this has had or might have in the future upon their child(ren). The assessment also looks at how to develop more robust protective parenting strategies as well as establishing patterns of care which meet their child’s requirements. The assessment will also consider the parent’s future capacity to meet their child’s capacity as the child’s needs become increasingly complex.

Observations of families are carried out on all appropriate physical care tasks initially, reducing these observations when and if it becomes apparent that the parents / caregivers are competent in these areas. >From admission staff escort the parent(s) out at all times when they leave the Family Centre with their children. This is considered at the first placement review two weeks after admission. Escorting is only lifted by mutual agreement with the local authority.

There are arrangements in place with the local doctor’s surgery for all families to be registered in order to access medical care whilst at the centre. Families of children under five years old are also seen by a Health Visitor on a regular basis according to the needs of each child and the concerns in the case. The clinic is held at the centre and the Health Visitor provides feedback on each child to staff as well as noting this in the client held record (red book). It is customary for Jamma Umoja to accompany parents to the GP regarding medical appointments for children and can be available to support to adults to attend appointments if they so request.

Jamma Umoja’s Family Centre offers parents their own room with a fridge and TV. Bathroom and cooking facilities are shared. There is also a communal living room.

Parents are expected to purchase their own food and prepare and cook meals for their own family.

The family has access to laundry facilities on site. There are no charges at the centre for service users.

The communal nature of the centre is designed to enable staff to see parents outside of their own living space mixing with other families. These observations enable workers to make an assessment of parents’ social skills, their capacity to engage with others and their capacity to make judgements about the risks that other families might pose to them and their children.

These arrangements also offer an opportunity to assess a family’s capacity for social integration – who do they gravitate towards, do they isolate themselves, how do they share facilities and space?

As well as attending formal sessions much of the assessment occurs around the day to day exchanges with parents.